With the upcoming midterm elections, politics is once again thrust to the forefront of the minds of many. The 2018 Election is more than just folks nagging us to register on the way to classes or political advertisements interrupting our Hulu-binging. Voting is a hallmark of our democracy and every two years citizens of the United States have the opportunity to vote for our elected representatives.

A student registering to vote on campus.

Photo by Ka Vang ’16

We Get to Choose

Many public officials, all with lasting influence, will be chosen on November 6thby us. Everything from representation in the United States Congress to the Governor’s race to local county, city, and school board representatives are chosen by us.

These are not some sort of far-away, abstract titles. These are important decisionmakers that will impact all our lives.

Voting is Important, Especially for Students

I often hear my friends and peers object that elections are inconsequential, and thus, voting is a waste of time. Voting is worthwhile; for students, it is especially so.

Think about where the “state” in Winona State comes from. The cost for all of us to attend this school is dependent on the state legislature’s funding of higher education. This funding has plummeted in the ten years since the Great Recession, with tuition costs skyrocketing to match the difference.

Congress funds Pell Grants and low-interest student loans. We as students already have a foot in the game. Higher education policy is a product of those we send to Washington D.C. and Saint Paul.

Young Americans,such as ourselves, have continually failed to establish a strong presence at the polls for years. If we care about the cost of our education, if we want politicians to listen to us, if we want to see the change that our generation expects, then we must vote.

How to Vote in Minnesota

Here in Minnesota, we have some of the most open and accessible voter laws in the entire country. If you did not register by the October 16thdeadline, you still have the opportunity to register on Election Day. All you will need is proof of your place of residence, the easiest of which would be a photo ID (Driver’s License or a WSU Student ID) and a billing statement with your address on it. Even an electric copy on your phone is acceptable!

You can find all of the information regarding how to vote and who is running for each office on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website: mnvotes.org. Using this website, you can also check if you’re already registered or not.

Exercise Your Right to Vote

Election Day is Tuesday November 6th. Classes and other university activities are not held after 6:00pm this day so that we all have the time to vote.

I encourage all of my peers at Winona State University to vote on November 6th. Research the candidates who are seeking to represent you and make an educated decision. Regardless of policy preference or even personal motivation, we owe it to ourselves to express the power of students by exercising our right to vote.

– Ben Ellgen ’20